Life lessons and pearls of wisdom from Lena Dunham

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Lena Dunham; writer, director, actress and all round VIP (that’s Very Impressive Person for the uninitiated).

Here at Stylist we have no shame in admitting that since the first episode of Girls hit our screens, we’ve been smitten with it’s creator who – as an aside –  was just 26 years old when she wrote the show.

The witty, sharp writing in Girls has resonated with women of every generation. And, both on her show and in interviews, Lena has won legions of fans with her candid answers, outspoken support of other women and by calling out critics and questioning double standards.

The writer, who was mentored by the inimitable and much missed Nora Ephron, has shared many of her personal life lessons on topics as varied as wearing pants to the legacy she’d like to leave behind.

We picked the best of her pearls of wisdom for your reading pleasure – notebooks at the ready, these make for pretty brilliant reading.

  • On socialising

    "I still go to a party and say something embarrassing to someone, and then write them a weird e-mail about it the next day, and then write them a text because I think they didn't get the e-mail. No matter what happens with your level of success, you still have to deal with all the baggage that is yourself."

  • On feeling like an outsider in her teenage years

    “I didn'’t feel part of it ... I didn'’t really start to feel like I had friends in a real way until I graduated from college and became engaged with the people I'’d be engaged with professionally."

  • On her legacy

    “I hope to have made it easier to be oneself in this hardscrabble world and to have rescued at least 15 animals from certain death. I'd also like to be known as "prolific, iconoclastic, and winsome."

  • On sexiness

    “Every time I start feeling sexy I trip”

  • On inner strength

    “It's interesting how we often can't see the ways in which we are being strong - like, you can't be aware of what you're doing that's tough and brave at the time that you're doing it because if you knew that it was brave, then you'd be scared.”

  • On toilet humour

    “I am the worst about toilet humor – I hate it, and I feel that the day I embrace it will be the day that I no longer have anything positive to offer the world.”

  • On starting to write

    "I had really bad OCD. I was really lonely at school. I felt a lot of shame. Seeing what I thought was people lightening their own load, or lifting their own burdens, by writing about them or singing about them just made the world seem more open."

  • On relationships in your 20’s

    “I feel like you don't know if someone's equipped for a romantic relationship until they're out of their twenties.”

  • On sex scenes in Girls

    "Seeing somebody who looks like you having sex on television is a less comfortable experience than seeing somebody who looks like nobody you've ever met."

  • On habits

    “‘I can't overstate how much I hate leaving the house."

  • On tattoos

    “I sort of tend to equate tattoos with prisoners, punks or people with a high level of self-confidence. I don't necessarily have a covered-in-tattoos personality.”

  • On sharing versus privacy

    “I'm ridiculous in my oversharing; my mom and sister are very open but a little more judicious than me... and my father is a decidedly private person.”

  • On being a woman in the workplace

    “I find being young and female has its real workplace advantages, too (old men want to open up to you, people worry that you're cold)”

  • On underwear

    “I am anti-pants.”

  • On the hardest thing about being a boss

    “There's no convenient time to take naps and the constant sense that you are neglecting something or someone.”

  • On criticising women

    “I often feel guilty pointing out behavior in other women that I don't support. Like somehow, the moment I was pulled from my mother's severed stomach, a pen was placed in my tiny balled fist and I signed a binding document that says "I got all your backs, ladies." And the thing is, I do support women, but part of that is being clear about what behaviors aren't helping the bigger cause [of feminism]. “

  • On what she finds inspirational

    “I love seeing women stand up for things they believe in, teach their daughters how to do the same, prepare meals out of whatever they have in their fridges, wear helmets when they ride their bikes, call BS when they see it, and accept that feminism comes in a lotta different forms.“

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Stylist Team